Women's Brains Stay Sharper Longer Than Men's, New Study Finds

Women's Brains Stay Sharper Longer Than Men's, New Study Finds

Women's Brains Stay Sharper Longer Than Men's, New Study Finds

Goyal's team conducted brain scans on 121 women and 84 men.

Dr. Michael Bloomfield, honorary consultant psychiatrist and head of the Translational Psychiatry Research Group at University College in London, told Newsweek, "It is important that we don't draw unjustified conclusions from this study in terms of differences between men and women, but that doesn't take away the need to ask these questions".

"We are just starting to understand how various sex-related factors might affect the trajectory of brain aging and how that might influence the vulnerability of the brain to neuro-degenerative diseases", said Manu Goyal, one of the researchers. In children, a metabolic process called aerobic glycolysis features heavily. Scientists wanted to map how the brain ages over time, and compare the chronological and metabolic ages of men and women. Only a tiny amount goes in by the time people are in their 60s.

In the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers studied 205 people to figure out how their brains use sugar.

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For each person, the researchers determined the fraction of sugar committed to aerobic glycolysis - that sustains brain development and maturation - in various regions of the brain.

They then fed a machine-learning algorithm the male sample data to establish a relationship between age and brain metabolism.

To ensure their data was on point, the researchers also used the same algorithm but in reverse, feeding first the women's data and then applying it to the men's.

The algorithm yielded brain ages an average of 3.8 years younger than the women's chronological age, according to the study. They used the women's data as a baseline, and estimated the men's ages based exclusively on their metabolism data. And that may mean women are better equipped to learn and be creative in later life, he says.

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A group of scientists believe the brain metabolisms of women take longer to slow than men's, which could explain why they tend to stave off cognitive decline for longer.

However, it is important to note that even the youngest participants, those in their 20s, showed a difference of about three years in age.

"What we don't know is what it means". I think this could mean that the reason women don't experience as much cognitive decline in later years is because their brains are effectively younger, and we're now working on a study to confirm that'.

It may explain why older men see a bigger drop in their memory and language skills than women, whose younger brains may protect them from forgetfulness for longer.

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In the next stage of their research, the team will be trying to determine if cognitive problems occur less frequently in people with brains that seem younger.

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